Food Knowledge

What is kimchi?

What is kimchi?

Kimchi is a healthy and delicious national dish of Korea. The taste is crispy, sour and spicy, and slightly sweet and salty. It’s a side dish in almost every Korean meal and an ingredient in soup, fried rice, and pancake.

To make kimchi, vegetables are first brined with salt and then seasoned with chili, ginger, garlic, green onion, sugar, and fish sauce. Optional ingredients include seafood such as anchovy, oyster, and shrimp. Fruits, usually Korean pear and apple, can also be blended into a paste and added.

Kimchi can be eaten fresh or after fermenting for a while. The longer it’s fermented, the more sour it tastes. When ripen just right, kimchi complements oily meat well. Overly ripe and sour kimchi are suitable for cooking in soup and fried rice.

What is the history of kimchi?

Long ago, Koreans faced starvation when food was scarce during the winter.  They overcame this struggle by preserving food with salt. They also ferment food in pots buried underground, where the soil helps maintain a constant temperature.

Now, kimchi continues to be an essential part of Korean culture. During the fall, there is the tradition of Kimjang where families and communities get together to make and share kimchi.

Is kimchi healthy?

Kimchi is well-known as a healthy dish. It comes from fermented vegetables, making it low in calories, low in sugar, and high in fiber. Vegetables, fruits, and optional fish provide lots of healthy vitamins and minerals. Spices such as chili, onion, and garlic also provide inflammatory benefits.

An additional benefit is that fermentation produces probiotics that are good for intestinal and gut health.

What are the common types of kimchi?

Kimchi uses any vegetable, fruit, and fish, resulting in limitless combinations. In Korea, there exist over 200 types! Here are the common ones to try:

·       Baechu Kimchi (Napa Cabbage Kimchi)

This is the most well-known type made using napa cabbage. Mak kimchi uses cabbage sliced into pieces to allow for faster fermentation, while Pogi kimchi uses the whole cabbage.

·       Korean Buddhist-Style Baechu Kimchi

It’s the vegetarian and clean version of cabbage kimchi created for Buddhist monks. It omits vegetables with strong smells such as green onion and garlic that can affect emotions. Kelp or soy sauce replaces fish sauce.

·       Kkakdugi (Cubed Radish Kimchi)

Korean radish (mu), which are huge and round in size, are chopped up into cubes and then fermented.

·       Oi Sobagi (Cucumber Kimchi)

Cucumbers are stuffed with vegetables, making for a crunchy and refreshing dish.

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